Apple said to begin plans to return workforce to the office by summer

The tech giant was one of the first to sound the alarm about the coronavirus. Now it's becoming one of the first to return to its offices.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
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Apple's reportedly planning a return to its offices.

James Martin/CNET

Companies around Silicon Valley are reconsidering their work-from-home strategies amid the coronavirus pandemic, telling employees they can work remotely after the crisis subsides. Apple is reportedly taking a different tack, sharing plans to potentially bring employees back to its offices by the summer.

The iPhone maker is planning to open its offices in phases, according to a report in Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the plan. The phase, which "has already begun in some regions globally," focuses on staff who can't work remotely or have faced challenges working away from the office. In July, the company plans to open offices more broadly. The plan is subject to local stay-at-home orders, Bloomberg's sources said.

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Apple declined to comment.

Apple's plan to bring employees back to its offices comes as governments continue to grapple with how to return to normal life amid the continued outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, which has so far has killed more than 293,000 patients and infected more than 4.2 million people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Apple's move also marks a seeming departure from some other tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, who told employees they can work remotely through the end of the year. Twitter has offered to allow remote work for some employees permanently.

Like most tech giants, Apple's known for its focus on in-office work. It famously has tight security protecting future products under development, and strictly controls which employees can focus test upcoming releases outside the office. Other companies though appear willing to reconsider that approach.

The pandemic has led companies, including Apple, to change their leave policies to allow more flexible work schedules for parents taking care of kids during school closures and caregivers helping older or sick loved ones.

Apple's plans to reopen its offices come as the company reopens its retail stores in Alabama, Alaska, Idaho and South Carolina this week. The company's instituted social distancing measures in the stores, and said it'll plan more reopenings based on government guidance and local health data. Apple's been paying retail workers while the stores have been closed.

Not everything at Apple will return to normal this year. The company's Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, will be held entirely online when it starts on June 22. Previously, Apple's held its conference in San Jose, California.

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